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Communications committee/Subcommittees/2006/09/02 DE article versioning

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The German Wikipedia community is contemplating a method of article versioning, in which the default view of an article is one which has been checked by a community member as 'not vandalised'. They have a working implementation of the software, but have not yet determined how or if they will implement it in the community. And the Mediawiki developers have not determined if it can be implemented on the Wikimedia Foundation servers.

Assuming these difficulties are overcome, it's still not sure if the test will work out for the German community. If it does, it is possible other wikipedias will be able to - and wish to - use this tool. In the meantime, it's just for the German community to experiment with this untested tool.



Nearly since its conception there have been discussions within the Wikipedia community to approve a 'non-vandalised' version of an article. These discussions have led the German language Wikipedia to develop an implementation which they will be testing in the near future. Here are some answers to common questions which are being asked:

What is changing?


The experience for not-logged-in readers visiting the German Wikipedia will be modified. The default view for an article will be to latest version of the article which is flagged as 'non-vandalised' or 'confirmed', with a link to the most-current working version. For logged-in readers there is no change. This change will only be on the German Wikipedia for the testing period. If the feature works well there, it may be made available for other communities to add it to their site but only if the community approves of it.

How does it work?


All edits to Wikipedia articles are logged, and each version is kept in the article's history. The new system will allow an experienced German Wikipedian to mark one of these versions as 'not-vandalised' (the marker is called a 'version flag'.) When a not-logged-in reader loads an article, the Wikipedia software will display the most recent flagged version.

Under the current proposal almost all German Wikipedians will automatically have the ability to mark articles as non-vandalised. It will also automate the process, so when an experienced user edits an article then that version is assumed to be not-vandalised, so very recent versions will always be available.

There is a second kind of version flag as well, called a 'confirmed' flag. The community is still discussing how the confirmed flag will be applied to articles, trying to answer questions like "Who is allowed to confirm a version?", but it will have the same effect as the 'not-vandalised' flag. The most recent version marked with either flag is the one which will be displayed by default.

When there are more recent versions than the flagged one, the 'edit' tab will be replaced by a link to the most current version. This will allow anyone who wishes to see the most recent edits, and of course allow everyone to edit the most recent version.

When was this proposed?


The first specific proposal to develop a "fixed" version of Wikipedia articles came in August of 2001[1]. Many varied proposals have been discussed since then, with a wide variety of ideas surrounding the idea of choosing one version of an article from its history to display while still supporting ongoing development of the article.

The German Wikipedia proposal grew out of exactly such discussions within their community, and in June of 2006 they approached the Board regarding implementing their experiment. The software implementation is being tested by MediaWiki developers, and the German Wikipedia community are still working out the details of the policy implementation, in September of 2006.

Press coverage


See also